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Daily Slop - 3 Jan 24: Ron Rivera hasn’t yet named the Week 18 starting quarterback

A collection of articles, podcasts & tweets from around the web to keep you in touch with the Commanders, the NFC East and the NFL in general

Washington Commanders Training Camp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

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Commanders Wire

Ron Rivera not ready to name a starting quarterback vs. Cowboys

“Well, we don’t have to let anybody know until tomorrow, so we’re just going to wait,” Rivera said Tuesday when asked who the Week 18 starter would be vs. Dallas.

“No, I think we don’t want to give them any head start or any of that,” Rivera answered when asked why he was waiting.

Does it matter who starts on Sunday?

The Commanders are 4-12, having lost seven straight games, while the Cowboys are playing for the NFC East title and the No. 2 overall seed in the NFC playoffs.

One more loss would put Washington in a favorable position to pick No. 2 in the 2024 NFL draft.

Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)

Evaluating how rookie CB Emmanuel Forbes played against the 49ers

Taking a closer look at the performance of CB Emmanuel Forbes against the 49ers

Press man coverage

[Forbes] continued to improve in press coverage as the game progressed.

On this play, the 49ers face a third and short situation near the goal line. Aiyuk splits outside to the right and Forbes lines up in press coverage opposite him. This time, Forbes does a much better job staying patient and not trying to be overly physical with Aiyuk. Instead of trying to jump all over him and getting shoved out of position, Forbes stays patient at the snap and maintains his position. He forces Aiyuk to declare his intentions with his release and sticks on his outside hip as he does so.

Aiyuk does nearly gain a slight advantage at the top of the route as he looks to break back outside. Forbes gets a little too handsy and leans into Aiyuk’s hip, which almost allows Aiyuk to use that momentum and break away from him. But Forbes is able to recover and stick with Aiyuk as he breaks outside, taking away the route. The quarterback was looking to throw to Aiyuk but as Forbes recovered out of the break, he ended up throwing the ball well out of play to avoid risking an interception.

Zone coverage

He’s clearly much more comfortable playing off and/or zone coverage and it definitely suits his game far more. That’s been clear to see every time the Commanders switch from man to zone coverage.

On this play, the Commanders look to drop back into a basic Tampa-2 coverage, with two deep safeties and five underneath defenders. As the outside cornerback, Forbes is responsible for the flat to his side of the field. His job is to try and disrupt the outside receiver if he works vertically, but then stay in the flat and protect the flat. He does a nice job engaging with the outside receiver and being physical to try and disrupt his route, but while he does that, he’s also extremely aware of what’s going on around him. While engaged with the receiver, he looks inside and spots the slot receiver breaking outside into the flat.

Having spotted the slot receiver breaking into his zone, Forbes quickly disengages with the outside receiver, peeling off to drive inside on the slot receiver. He can’t get there in time to break up the pass, but he does land a strong hit to make a tackle immediately after the catch is made and keeps the gain to a minimum, exactly as zone coverage intends to do.

Playing off gives Forbes a wider field of vision, which he has the talent to take advantage of. When he’s up on the line of scrimmage playing press, he has to focus on the receiver in front of him and is often turning and reacting based on that receiver’s initial movement. When he plays off, he can hold his position and look for clues in the route, breaking on anything underneath.

Commanders Wire

Is Eric Bieniemy a contender for the Chargers’ coaching vacancy?

Bieniemy faced multiple challenges with the Commanders, including improving an underperforming offense while developing second-year quarterback Sam Howell. Throughout the first half of the season, Bieniemy was accomplishing both things.

Unfortunately, Washington’s offense crashed in Week 11 and has struggled to find consistency since. Howell has struggled, and he hasn’t received much help from his coaches or teammates.

With Rivera expected to be fired after next week’s game against the Cowboys, what happens with Bieniemy?

According to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, Bieniemy is one of four names linked to the vacant Los Angeles Chargers head coach position.

The Chargers fired Brandon Staley last month, and Giff Smith is finishing the season as their interim head coach.

Sports Illustrated

Should Washington Commanders Draft Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr. In Second Round?

Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. had the game of his life in the College Football Playoffs semifinal. Should the Washington Commanders take him in Round 2?

Washington Huskies quarterback and Heisman finalist Michael Penix Jr. made his bid for the Commanders quarterback on Monday when he lit up the College Football Playoff semifinal.

Penix put on a show, completing 29 of 38 attempts en route to 430 passing yards and two scores. He was unimpeachable and showed off NFL-level throws all night long. As a pure passer, he belongs. His Huskies went on to beat the Texas Longhorns 37-31 for a chance to play the Michigan Wolverines and win a national championship.

Such an incredible performance on the sport’s brightest stage is bound to earn Penix some fans and add to his draft stock. Even so, some remain hopeful the Commanders can add an elite non-quarterback in the first round before taking Penix (presumably) at 36. Should they?

In a word? No. In two words? Absolutely not.

Penix could end up being a franchise quarterback and make every team that passes on him look foolish. He’s incredibly talented and showcased on Monday that he can make virtually any throw asked of him.

But the NFL Draft is an exercise in probabilistic thinking. If he’s projected to fall to the second round, there’s a reason for it—in his case several.

Penix will be a 24-year-old rookie, has four season-ending injuries to his name, and isn’t the same raw athlete that Caleb Williams and Drake Maye, the consensus top arms in this class, are.

Podcasts & videos

Previewing Washington Commanders Head Coach and General Manager Candidates | Mock NFL Draft

Russell and Willingham break down possible Commanders target Michael Penix Jr.’s Sugar Bowl win

NFL league links


Pro Football Talk

UFL shares details about merger of USFL, XFL rosters

In a letter distributed to player representatives on Tuesday, UFL executive V.P. of football operations Daryl Johnston explained that the eight returning teams will be able to protect up to 42 players on their existing rosters. The UFL will also conduct a pair of dispersal drafts to determine the placement of players from the eight teams that will be folding.

The eight teams of the UFL will be the Birmingham Stallions, Houston Roughnecks, Memphis Showboats, and Michigan Panthers of the USFL, and the Arlington Renegades, D.C. Defenders, San Antonio Brahmas, and St. Louis Battlehawks of the XFL.

The best players will stick around, regardless of whether their team did or didn’t survive.